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Condition of fences at La Jolla’s Scripps Park raises safety concerns

Fences along Scripps Park are losing their stability and could pose a safety hazard, some residents say.
(Claire Sheinberg)

Locals say the white wooden fences look ‘horrible,’ ‘dilapidated’ and ‘dangerous’ and they want them repaired and maintained.

Hot on the heels of two lawsuits against the city of San Diego over reported trip-and-fall incidents in La Jolla’s Village, some people who frequent Scripps Park at The Cove are worried that the wooden fencing that separates the walkway from the bluffs there and goes down toward the Children’s Pool may pose a new legal risk.

Residents such as Claire Sheinberg say the fences are chipping away and that they’re worried the city may be open to another lawsuit.

“It’s a shame that whoever is in charge of La Jolla’s maintenance does not do anything about all this. ... [It’s] very dangerous because the wood is so deteriorated that it became very weak,” Sheinberg said. “These people are waiting for an accident to happen and then being sued for negligence to fix this. It is a real shame; it makes our area look horrible and neglected. The Cove is just a jewel tarnished by this.”

“These people are waiting for an accident to happen and then being sued for negligence to fix this.”

— Claire Sheinberg

The fences — and all fences in the public right of way — are maintained by the San Diego Transportation Department, according to city spokesman Jerry McCormick.

“If Parks [& Recreation] staff notice issues related to the fencing, they reach out directly to the Transportation Department,” he said. “Parks staff ... recently submitted a request for some repair work to be done in the [Scripps Park] area with the city fence contractor. They are expecting the work to be completed in the next few weeks.”

It isn’t known whether the city has a long-term plan to maintain the fences or if repairs are made only when a request is filed.

“Parks staff ... recently submitted a request for some repair work to be done in the [Scripps Park] area with the city fence contractor. They are expecting the work to be completed in the next few weeks.”

— San Diego city spokesman Jerry McCormick

Some of the fences along La Jolla's shoreline toward the Children's Pool have some residents concerned about safety.
(Claire Sheinberg)

The La Jolla Parks & Beaches board says part of its long-term planning is to earn a right-of-entry permit to do work on city property.

LJP&B President Bob Evans said the fences “look so shabby and dilapidated, and they’re so iconic along that area.” He said it is a priority for him and Vice President Brenda Fake “to get them painted and maintained.”

“A couple of us have been submitting requests on the city’s Get It Done app for a while, and nothing gets done and the case is closed,” Evans added.

Thus, the board recently recommitted to be more project-driven and bring members of the community into the fold to help carry out those projects.

“The wooden white fence along the street/sidewalk that stretches from the Cave Store area and south to the Children’s Pool is high on our to-do list,” Evans said. “Getting that fence repaired and painted is a priority item with us at LJP&B and requires a right-of-entry permit from the city’s [Transportation Department]. We’re working on it.”

Evans previously said the board was exploring gaining a long-term right-of-entry permit for Scripps Park to make minor repairs and perform projects beyond what the city can do. It also was looking at expanding its fundraising and grant-writing abilities, partnering with other community organizations to pool resources on projects, documenting its processes so they can be handed down to future board members, and more.

Concern about lawsuits is high after the city was sued twice this year over trip-and-fall incidents in La Jolla.

One reportedly occurred in September 2021 on the Silverado Street sidewalk next to the Empress Hotel. That suit was filed in June.

For the second time this year, the city claims the nonprofit has responsibility in connection with an incident in The Village, but Enhance La Jolla says this time ‘we’re not going to stand for it.’

In April, a lawsuit against the city stated that in January 2020, a resident was walking on the sidewalk on Pearl Street when she tripped in an empty tree well, fell and hit her face on the sidewalk.

That suit was settled for $40,000 and was paid for by the insurance of Enhance La Jolla, which administers the Village Maintenance Assessment District. The city said it was of the impression that the nonprofit had removed the tree and created the hole. Enhance La Jolla Chairman Ed Witt said that didn’t happen and that the tree well had already been empty for years. ◆